Mission Accomplished: Big Oil's Occupation Of Iraq By Heather Wokusch

Posted on Tuesday, January 03 at 14:23 by hjbald
But Bush & Co. and their Big Oil cronies might have found a simple yet devious solution: production sharing agreements (PSAs). Here's how PSAs work. In return for investment in areas where fields are small and results are uncertain, governments occasionally grant oil companies sweetheart deals guaranteeing high profit margins and protection from exploration risks. The country officially retains ownership of its oil resources, but the contractual agreements are often so rigid and severe that in practical terms, it can be the equivalent of giving away the deed to the farm. Since Iraq sits on the world's third largest oil reserves, the PSA model makes little sense in the first place; Iraq's fields are enormous and the exploration risks are accordingly miniscule, so direct national investment or more equitable forms of foreign investment would be in order. But as a comprehensive new report by the London-based advocacy group PLATFORM details, the PSA model "is on course to be adopted in Iraq, soon after the December elections, with no public debate and at enormous potential cost." PLATFORM's "Crude Designs: The Rip-off of Iraq's Oil Wealth" points out that the proposed agreements (with US State Department origins) will prove a bonanza for oil companies but a disaster for the Iraqi people: - "At an oil price of $40 per barrel, Iraq stands to lose between $74 billion and $194 billion over the lifetime of the proposed contracts, from only the first 12 oilfields to be developed. These estimates, based on conservative assumptions, represent between two and seven times the current Iraqi government budget." - "Under the likely terms of the contracts, oil company rates of return from investing in Iraq would range from 42% to 162%, far in excess of usual industry minimum target of around 12% return on investment." Of course, given the current political chaos, Iraqi citizens have little power over whether their politicians sign the proposed PSA agreements. That critical decision could be left to con-men like the former Interim Oil Minister Ahmad Chalabi, who recently met with no less than Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice during his red-carpet visit to the White House. One can assume the topic of Iraq's proposed PSAs came up more than once. A linked version of each article is available at www.heatherwokusch.com

Note: www.heatherwokusch.com

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